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Cardin announcement opens floodgates for Democratic primary

Ben Cardin Seat Opens.png
Posted at 5:29 PM, May 01, 2023

Sen. Ben Cardin's announcement Monday that he wouldn't seek re-election in 2024, didn't come as a surprise to elections analyst Geoffrey Skelley.

"Cardin had recently reported very little fundraising in the first quarter of 2023," said Skelley, with FiveThirtyEight of the 79-year-old Senator. "There was some thought that that was a sign that he probably wasn't going to run again.

The senior Senator will finish out his third term in January 2025, so Marylanders will still be hearing from him.

But, as the 2024 election season ramps up, Marylanders will also begin to hear from people looking to campaign for his seat in a now wide-open Democratic primary.

Skelley says US House members are likely potential candidates.

"Jamie Raskin, I think, is the main name that gets thrown around," he says, adding that "David Trone, the congressman from Frederick/Montgomery County.. instead of perhaps running again.. in his highly competitive sixth district seat, he might see a statewide campaign that could get him elected to a six-year term and a much safer seat statewide."

Both representatives released statements following Cardin's announcement.

It's not only Representatives in the House who might be looking to take Ben Cardin's seat.

"Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks is a well known figure," says Skelley. "[She] would be, perhaps, a leading candidate of color in a primary."

The current Maryland Congressional delegation, which includes 8 Representatives and 2 Senators, is all male. Rep. Kweisi Mfume and Rep. Glenn Ivey are the only Black members of the Maryland delegation.

Alsobrooks is said to be seriously considering running for the seat.

She also tweeted out her thanks and congratulations to Cardin following today's announcement.

Skelley also said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski's name's "been thrown around for years."

Johnny O also tweeted out a statement on Monday.

Former gubernatorial candidate Tom Perez was another possibility for the Senate seat that came up in our discussion with Skelley.

"Tom Perez, obviously had quite a federal connection having been chair of the Democratic National Committee, so that's a possibility.. Perez is interesting, for sure.. I wouldn't rule it out by any means," he says.

"Character, integrity, accomplishment. That is the Ben Cardin brand. Thank you Senator for your dedicated service." -@TomPerez on Senator Cardin's annoucement

Another top candidate for Governor in 2022, Skelley deemed less likely.

"I have to think Peter Franchot, probably not, given his age and his connection. He's more of a state politics guy, obviously, for a long time."

While Skelley deems the Senate seat Cardin currently holds as "safely blue," we did ask him about a couple high profile names.

"I'd say it's probably unlikely that [former Governor] Larry Hogan will run, but I wouldn't rule it out entirely. He has previously, I think, made some comments suggesting that he wasn't particularly interested in being in the legislature," he says.

Though, Skelley notes, that comment was made while Hogan was apparently eyeing a run for the Republican nomination to the White House. Hogan since announced that he will not run for President.

"I want to thank @SenatorCardinfor his decades of distinguished service to Marylanders. While we did not always agree, we often worked together as Team Maryland to do what is best for the people of our state." -@GovLarryHogan on Senator Cardin's announcement

Another big Republican name we asked about, Representative Andy Harris, the lone Republican in Maryland's Congressional delegation.

"It is possible that Andy Harris, having been in the House for a while might decide this is the opportunity to maybe 'take your shot,' but I would be skeptical that [he'd] want to give up that seat," said Skelley.

But again, the FiveThirtyEight analyst believes that the seat is likely not to go to a Republican.

"Let's put it this way," says Skelley, "if Maryland is competitive [in 2024], Republicans are on their way to winning a gigantic landslide, and the electoral college and given recent political history, it is very hard to imagine a scenario where you're going to get a lopsided result in the presidential election... Maryland is very likely to vote Democratic and likely to do so by a substantial margin for president and that's going to benefit Democrats in the General Election."

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Rep. Kweisi Mfume was the only Black member of the Congressional delegation, leaving out Rep. Glenn Ivey, who was elected in 2022.